Feature

Broad Street Station with City Hall. Photo from City of Philadelphia, Department of Records

A Look Back at “the Chinese Wall,” an Elevated Viaduct that Once Ran Through Center City

In the late 1800’s, ten city blocks in Center City were converted into an elevated railroad spur that serviced multiple rail lines, connected to the Broad Street Station just to the west of City Hall, near the current space Dilworth Park. A massive train shed stood behind the station, rising multiple stories tall and prominent from many directions. Designed by the Wilson Brothers, the project was developed by the Pennsylvania Railroad and was completed on December 5, 1881. The centerpiece was a five-story Victorian Gothic headhouse facing City Hall.

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One Meridian Plaza (left) in the Philadelphia skyline. Photo via Daily Press

The Tragic Story of One Meridian Plaza

One Meridian Plaza was a 492-foot-tall, 38-story skyscraper that used to stand on the current site of the Residences at Ritz Carlton and the W/Element Hotel at 1416 South Penn Square in Center City, across from City Hall. The building began construction in 1968 and opened in 1972, just after the construction of the 1980’s skyscraper boom. Designed by Vincent and Kling and Associates and developed by Girard Bank and Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance, the tower was extensively damaged by a fatal fire in 1991 and demolished in 1999.

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Mandeville Place rendering. Image via Richard Meier and Partners Architects

Revisiting Mandeville Place, a 607-Foot-Tall High-Rise Once Proposed at 2401 Walnut Street in Center City West

Philly YIMBY’s “unbuilt” series continues with Mandeville Place, a slender, 607-foot-tall high-rise proposed at 2401 Walnut Street in Center City West in the mid-2000s. Designed by Richard Meier & Partners Architects and developed by Bedrock Group LLC, the 43-story skyscraper would have joined an existing eight-story building to the south, which would have been converted into hotel space. A shared amenity rooftop was planned between the two structures. The tower would have featured 45 condominium units that would have offered dramatic views of the skyline.

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Waldorf Astoria looking northwest. Image via Cope-Linder Architects

Looking at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residences Once Proposed at 1441 Chestnut Street in Center City

Today’s entry in Philly YIMBY’s ongoing “unbuilt” series is the Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residences Philadelphia, proposed at 1441 Chestnut Street in Center City, where the W/Element Hotel is now nearing completion. The 567-foot-tall, 59-story tower would have occupied the south side of the site of the former One Meridian Plaza, a 492-foot-tall office skyscraper damaged by a lethal fire in 1991 and demolished in 1999 (yesterday YIMBY covered a supertall structure proposed earlier at the site). Like the W/Element Hotel, the Waldorf Astoria iteration was also designed by Cope-Linder Architects, though the developers at the time were Mariner Commercial Properties, Inc. and Gatehouse Capital Corporation. The tower would have featured 181 hotel rooms and 126 residences.

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